Have You Wonder What Threats Hedgehogs Face Everyday?
The hedgehog population has continually declined throughout the years: from about 30 million in the 1950s to 1.5 million in the 1990s, down to less than 1 million today.
But, what are the causes that led to the decrease in the hedgehog population? Here are 15 threats to their survival, as well as simple tips that you can do to help arrest their declining numbers.
Roads and Vehicles
Every year, 50,000 to 100,000 hedgehogs are killed by vehicles, either on highways or local streets.
The most common victims are males searching for mates and youngsters looking for food.
It is inevitable that vehicles and hedgehogs will cross paths because roads are located in their natural territories.
So, if you know that you live in an area where they could be present, slow down at night when they are more active.
Artificial barriers such as walls can prevent access to some regions of the hedgehogs’ territory, which means they have to look further to find food.
Metal grills and wire fences are also dangerous because they can get stuck in them and get injured.
It is not a good idea to install low-level barbed wire as this can trap and kill hedgehogs.
Badgers and foxes are usually found on the same territories as that hedgehogs and are their primary natural predators.
Smaller hoglets are also vulnerable to weasels, ferrets, and rats. If you want to feed hedgehogs, avoid leaving the food outside a feeding station because this also attracts other animals like foxes.
Adult cats may not be able to harm adult hedgehogs, but they are undoubtedly able to kill smaller hoglets.
On the other hand, adult dogs can easily maul hedgehogs, so be wary of behavior that may indicate that your pet is chasing or attacking a hedgehog.
Wood piles attract hedgehogs looking for a place to settle during cold weather.
This natural behavior can seriously injure or kill the hedgehog when the fire is lit, so check the wood pile for disturbances with a torchlight, move the sticks around, and look inside by lifting the base with a long post.
Hedgehogs like to nest on a warm compost heap or a leaf pile, and they may get stabbed when the pile is turned or mixed with a garden fork, so check the pile before moving it.
You may not be able to handle the hedgehog but once disturbed, it will try to move away.
Garden Trimmers and Lawn Mowers
Hedgehogs will rest in tall grass or hide in them.
A sleeping hedgehog may be woken by the sound of the trimmer or mower and will run away, but a sick or injured hedgehog may not.
So again, make sure to check the area before you begin to trim.
Netting can cause the hedgehog to get trapped, and complications may arise if it cuts off the hog’s blood supply.
Suddenly releasing the tension by cutting off the netting may cause further complications.
Prevent this accident by ensuring that the netting is stretched, anchored, and, if possible, elevated from the ground.
If a hedgehog consumes a slug contaminated with chemicals, it also runs the risk of being poisoned.
Of course, there is also the possibility of the hedgehog eating the pellet so try to use nontoxic alternatives to wildlife like Ferric Sodium EDTA or use slug traps instead.
Rat Poison and Traps
Traps attract not only the attention of rats but also juvenile hedgehogs looking to nest in these boxes that are dark, dry, and safe in the corner of the garden.
Recent studies show that most hogs analyzed post-mortem have rat poison in their stomach, so try to use other safe trap versions for wildlife.
Oil and Grease
Hedgehogs are not interested in oil or grease for food, but their curiosity may get them in trouble as these toxic materials can coat their bodies.
Tins of paint, oil cans, and other similar materials should always have a lid and be stored properly.
Hedgehogs may get trapped in plastic holders for beer or other drinks because their spikes hold them in place, and may die.
It is like any other animal that gets restricted and unable to move.
Reduce hedgehog injuries by cutting the plastic holders before throwing them in a recycling bin.
Open Food Cans
While trying to retrieve food from food cans or cups, they may enter the container head first and get stuck because of the quills.
Be resourceful and reuse or squash the cans before throwing them in a recycling bin.
Feeding While in the Wild
Some people try to help by feeding the wild hedgehogs, but they do not realize they may be causing harm as well.
Wet cat food usually comes in tin cans where hedgehogs may get stuck, milk causes diarrhea, and bread or cookies contain sugars but not enough nutrients.
Try to research what you can feed hedgehogs to supplement their natural diet.
Pools of Water
Hedgehogs are good swimmers but can eventually tire out and drown.
Garden ponds, swimming pools, and drains allow the hedgehog to fall through, but the steep and slippery sides will prevent them from getting out.
It is a good idea to place a plank of wood on pools and ponds which the hedgehog can climb and to cover drains with chicken wire.
Although there are several threats to hedgehogs, we can still assure their existence by caring for them and their natural habitat.
Domesticated hedgehogs are becoming common pets, which means that other places may start to see a business in them.
Please only talk to certified breeders as they provide the proper care and are licensed (if applicable) to do so.
You can also take care of wild hedgehogs by providing them supplementary food, clean water, and a hog hut.
Watching them come and go through your garden can be just as enjoyable.
By Kristy Matthews of CostFreak.com